Invite a dog to dinner.
The dog might wonder what you’re up to, but go along because it means so much to you — and it is dinner. Dinner is food and food is good. Dogs are good. It’s a perfect pairing.
Don’t concern yourself about when the dog will actually show up. A dog will show up at the perfect time, empty food bowl at the ready if he happened to spot one on his way out the door.
Dinner at my house is around 7:30 p.m. Our dog used to have dinner with us, but moved his dinner up to 4:00 p.m. when we learned that was when a dog-loving friend serves her dog dinner. The sweet faded black labrador retreiver would shuffle around the house, whomping her person gently in the back of her legs with the empty food bowl, to make sure that she wasn’t forgotten and dinner was served on time.
However, when you invite a dog to dinner and say a time, know that dog time is relative. While there are dogs who watch the sun and prod their humans for their meal, there are others who don’t seem to care at all because there are rabbits to chase, boundaries to enforce, and smells to be explored. The right dinner time is specific to the dog, the family, the day: weather, mood, breakfast, walk, naps, treats, and what is offered.
When the dog arrives, offer whatever you have. She might not want it. He might not eat it. She may shock you by eating soy burgers. But the offer still must be made — as it would be to any guest.
Invite the dog to your Thanksgiving dinner and you will have the best one ever. You will see passionate focus, devotion to the eating and the savoring every last bit, and then the satisfied licking of chops as the dog ambles off, replete from the feast.
Few humans eat with such abandon, such joy and pleasure in eating — I would dearly love to have those happy folks at my Thanksgiving table.The angst, anxiety, and sorrow that star at so many Thanksgiving tables would still be there, but they would not be at the center, would have to yield to the overwhelming present-moment joy in the who is there, the what is shared, and what is savored.
Consider yourself invited in spirit if you are missing a loved one who died — recently or in long distant past because missing doesn’t keep time. Pull up a virtual mismatched chair because there are so many virtual chairs at our Thanksgiving table, so many raucous and lively guests speaking different languages, sharing memories, bad jokes, and trying new dishes. Please feel welcome to the pleasures and pitfalls of a Thanksgiving celebration that has its traditions and new delights, more powerful and meaningful for the flexibility and whatever results.
Offer the dog a bit of everything, second helpings of whatever the dog prefers. Take pleasure in the whole-hearted dog joy of eating good food with others, the licking of the chops, and the walk or nap that feels right.